Ask the Ref: Expert Referee Keith Hackett on Illegal Use of Hands and Arms
World class, long time referee Keith Hackett has worked with famed artist Paul Trevillion on the You Are The Ref for years. With a series of great books and a new website, Hackett is once again sharing his passion and insights on the world of soccer with our readers.
Soccer News: One of the main things to avoid when you are refereeing is to stop looking at the ball when it is in the air.
I often see young referees during the course of a game looking skywards trying to determine where the ball is going to land after it has been kicked.
I can assure you that the ball never commits an offense. It is always a player who commits an offense. I am becoming increasingly concerned with players using their hands and arms illegally and not being sanctioned in the appropriate manner. To detect these offenses all officials must improve their concentration and awareness to put these challenges under proper scrutiny. Often match officials miss the illegal hand/arm challenge because their focus is on a player’s feet and legs.
So you need to concentrate on the action between the players who are awaiting the arrival of the ball into the dropping zone after it has been kicked.
If you have made good judgment and moved into the dropping zone with a side on view then you will be in a better position to judge those leaning on, holding or even pulling offenses that take place before the ball arrives.
When you are in close proximity your presence can help to prevent these offenses. If you are not the players will take advantage of your rather loose and ineffective officiating.
So the first thing that you need to develop is a skill to judge when the ball is kicked where it is likely to land and move towards the dropping zone obtaining for yourself a good viewing angle. I would often shout “keep it fair I am watching you”.
Look for that early push when two players are going to leap to head the ball. It is often done in a subtle way by one hand in the middle of the back, or one outstretched arm hung out to the front above the shoulder of an opponent.
That initial jump by the opponent is stopped when the shoulder hits the outstretched arm. It looks innocent but it is very effective.
You might see when the ball is entering the zone a defender run forward and jump into the back of his opponent and then claim that he has been impeded.
You need to be on your guard for the illegal use of the elbow an offence that is rare but one that can cause a great deal of damage. This offence is committed by the player standing in front of his opponent when the ball is arriving. The player will know exactly where his opponent is and then strike out with his elbow using the excuse that he needed to use his arms to gain elevation.
Take a look at the hand here for a clenched fist when the arm is used illegally is a great sign that the player was out to offend in order to win possession of the ball.
Finally, one area where I am sad to say referees have allowed too many offences to go unpunished is in the penalty area from corner kicks and free kicks.
I ask you when you are refereeing to be alert to the holding and pushing that goes on before you signal for the kick to be taken. Put a halt to proceedings. Make it clear to the offenders that you will not tolerate this type of action.
BE PREPARED TO PUNISH IF YOUR WARNING HAS GONE UNHEEDED.
Keith Hackett is a world class ref and the author of You Are the Ref, the Ultimate Illustrated Guide to the Laws of Football and the new book, You Are the Umpire. The books are available on Amazon.com. The amazing illustrations are by Paul Trevillion.
You Are The Ref is a cult classic comic strip in England. SoccerToday is thrilled to bring this to our American soccer audience and share these stunning portraits of soccer stars from all eras. For anyone who has ever questioned a ref’s eyesight or grappled with a clearly ‘wrong’ call, now it is your turn!
According to David James, “Anyone who loves the game knows You Are The Ref. Paul Trevillion’s brilliant art has been around for generations!”
Any opinions expressed in this column shall not be construed as advice on Laws of the Game, and may not represent the official position of US Soccer, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), CalSouth, the Presidio League, or any affiliates thereof unless specified with appropriate attribution.